Saturday, March 13, 2010

Who was Philemon anyway?

Good question, huh? I have to say I could not have even ventured a guess before I read it recently. He was actually a slave master, and a friend of Paul's. Philemon's slave Onesimus ran away and met up with Paul, became a Christian and realized he must go back to his owner. Can you imagine? Actually the story isn't so much about slavery as it is about showing Christ's love through forgiveness, something we call could use a regular lesson on. However, after reading it's one chapter, that I have never really given any thought to, God wanted to make sure my eyes were opened to see that slavery still exists. I encourage you to read it, if you haven't lately.

The next day on the radio I heard about a website that makes jewelry to raise awareness of human trafficking- today in 2010. The name is 'Wonderfully Made'. The following is quoted from their website: "Human trafficking takes on many forms throughout the world ranging from sweatshop labor, to day laborers, to sex slaves. Sex trafficking occurs in every nation and preys on young girls and boys; over 50% of the victims are under the age of 18. It is estimated that 80% of the victims are females who are kidnapped, sold, or tricked into selling their bodies. Although not widely realized, 14,500 to 17,500 victims are brought into the United States on an annual basis (U.S. State Department). According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked internationally every year. Trafficking is simply twenty-first century slavery."

This week in school Payton and his class had been talking quite a bit about slavery. He would come home with details about how slaves were treated in the 1800's, how Abraham Lincoln put an end to slavery. Sadly, I had to inform him that slavery, although not legal, certainly has not gone away. I didn't get into too much detail with him, but assured him that we needed to pray for those who are still brought into slavery every day. It may look different than it did in the 1800's, but it still exists.

Then, reading in my Proverbs 31 magazine last week, there was an article titled "21st Century Abolitionists Needed" written by Randy Bishop. There are some scary statistics here people. In the past, I have not tended to be an over protective mother, but I am now:

An estimated 200,000 U.S. children alone are at high risk for sex trafficking each year
UNICEF estimates there are 2 MILLION victims of child prostitution alone world-wide.
Approximately 17,500 foreign nationals are trafficked into the U.S. annually.

These are some ways we can help:
Pray- for the victims and victimizers, if you aren't sure what to ask, God will help.
Become involved politically- a free resource that includes victims' stories:
Support fair trade businesses such as WorldCrafts, at to purchase items that will help women freed from sexual exploitation
Be aware of suspicious activity- to learn to recognize the signs of possible trafficking, go to hotline# 888-373-7888

I'm not done yet. On and off for the last 2 months I have been reading a book called 'Wasabi Gospel' by Shawn Wood, great book. (I have the bad habit of starting 2 or 3 books at a time.) I was completely shocked, (but was then reminded that God is trying to imbed something in my brain - so the shock quickly wore off) when 5 pages into my nightly reading he began to talk about Jesus' love for little children. "Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said...."Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me, but the one who sent me." Mark 9:35-37

" A quick glance through Scripture will show you how serious Jesus was about children. Good thing we totally understand that, and always take care of our children, right? I mean, it was just those mean Romans and the barbarians in the Middle Ages that had children as slaves and such, right? Surely no children are slaves in the world today, right? Wrong! According to the International Justice Mission website: Trafficking in humans generates profits in excess of 12 billion dollars a year for those who.... sell human lives into slavery and sexual bondage. And from Greg Atkinson: 'I was speaking to church leaders in Atlanta (in 2008) and I asked them what they were burdened about as a city..... their answer was "child sex trafficking." My response was "oh, you mean helping overseas?" They said, "No, right here. Atlanta is number one in the United States for child sex trafficking." My jaw dropped. I was speechless. They went on to tell me of girls as young as five and six years old that were being sold as sex slaves- in Atlanta!

I know that God has been trying to get my attention to this matter. I'm not sure why, maybe just to raise awareness for others that this exists. Maybe to keep a closer, even more protective eye on my own daugthers, maybe just to pray for the victims. I'm not sure why during the last 3 weeks, this message would come to me five different times, but I have heard it,loud and clear.

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